Stressed? Don't worry, it won't kill you

Earlier this evening I watched a TED video called How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal, and I'm still a bit perplexed by what she said.

Most of us have no choice but to trust those that are smarter than ourselves. We believe information telling us that eating vegetables, not smoking, and running away from bears are all good for us. We don't know for certain what's conducive to our own longevity, so we have no choice but to listen to the advice of others. But what about when something you believe is put into question, or even completely contradicted? 

In this video, Kelly talks about a US study that tracked 30,000 adults for eight years. It found that there was a 43% increased risk of dying for those who experienced stress, but that this was only true for those who believed stress to be harmful. The participants who were stressed but didn't think stress was harmful had no increased risk of dying at all.

I've been programmed to see stress as the enemy. But now I have to get my head around the news that if I see stress in a positive way, it will be of no detriment to my health. Stress - something I've interpreted as the most insidiouspoisonous, ageing thing I could put my body through -  doesn't have to kill me (something I previously saw as an inevitability).


Kelly also explains that stress makes you social. Oxytocin - the 'cuddle hormone' - is released alongside adrenaline when your body responds to stress. It encourages you to talk to others, notice when those around you need help, and protects the heart from the effects of stress. Instead of thinking it's harmful, we need think of it as our body preparing and allowing us to cope with challenges. 

I don't know about you but I get stressed about being stressed - which sounds ridiculous, I know. I have a very strong reaction to stress, so I know that changing my perception of what it's doing to my body could potentially do wonderful things. However, after years of being told how unhealthy something is, believing the opposite won't be easy - even if my life depends on it. Don't worry, I'll let you know as soon as I hear the news that chocolate is healthy and exercise isn't. 


  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pH9iArj4Sk

    Hey Jess, I've had anxiety on and off about things that have happened in my life. Whether this be socially, financially, or for some reasons being afraid of something. I'm a film maker on youtube, and found your blog post called "Anxiety: I worry that I’ll hear "Just get on with it" - And I made a video pretty much about how you felt!

    I feel that people need to know this because too many of a time where I went to tell someone how I feel and all they have to say is that sentence which can irritate a lot of people. It'd be great if you conveyed this message to your friends. The alternative ending was just to lighten the mood, so I hope you don't find that offensive. Thanks =).

    1. Sorry, to add on, the video has opinions of other people as well about their thoughts of this particular sentence. I've been there way too many freaking times and it's so frustrating as well.

  2. This was such an interesting post, and I had never considered that knowing the effects of stress could be detrimental to your health. Thanks for sharing, it's given me something to think about! x